Stood Down Thanks to Covid-19. Day Thirteen. By Owen Zupp.
Stood Down. Thanks to Covid-19. Day Thirteen.
This is Our Time.
It’s quite incredible how quickly something so different can become the new normal.
I’m working from home, our kids are schooling online, morning coffees are brewed at home and venturing out is a rare event. There was no party for my son’s birthday, but we celebrated as a family and it was wonderful. Kirrily and I have become part-time teachers, revisiting history and the outbreak of World War One and the shifting Tectonic Plates. (Although, I’m lost on the way in which they teach multiplication and division “these days”.) Physical Education is in the backyard amongst much giggling and I must be careful not to embarrass any child by walking into the background of the online “zoom” classroom.
Yes, it is all very different, but we have adapted with a minimum of disruption, fortunately. And still, we are moving forward, we are comfortable, and we are together and safe. This cannot be said for every chapter in our nation’s past and I raised this with our kids over dinner.
I was raised by parents that lived through the Great Depression and subsequently a world at war. At ten years of age, my father was helping to drive cattle and sleeping by the roadside, by fourteen they’d lost the farm and he worked at a foundry, cleaning the inside of furnaces, like something out of “Oliver Twist”. My mother’s family fared better financially, but she told tales of walking with her father and a vat of soup, feeding men camping by the railway line in country NSW, as they “jumped the rattler” and moved from town to town in search of work.
When war came, their lives were cast onto chaos. My father fought overseas in the jungles of New Guinea before being among the first to set foot in Hiroshima. My mother’s classmates died in horrendous numbers, with her own fiancé perishing in his Beaufort bomber only weeks before their wedding. And when peace came, it was not for long. My father found himself fighting in the skies over Korea before he finally found a life with my mother. Yet for all of the disruption, the food rations, the restrictions and the loss – neither of my parents ever complained. In fact, my mum often fondly reminisced that it was a much “simpler time”.
As we chatted as a family over the evening meal, I related these stories to our kids, although they’d probably heard them all before. They were very attentive, but it was not the stories of Grandad and Nanna that I wanted to convey, it was the fact that this is our time. We have been fortunate in that our lives haven’t been touched by such hardships. Even our wars have been different, with our servicemen and servicewomen deployed overseas with minimal media coverage and little recognition. Our own shores have not been under threat, nor Darwin bombed. While the economy is currently fighting a challenging fight, we are yet to reach the lows of the early 1930s that the Great Depression cast upon our land. We have been fortunate as Australians.
I could see in their eyes that my kids understood. Kirrily and I spoke about it in a balanced manner, and our kids responded in kind. They understood and even more importantly, were thankful. They drew upon the common thread that despite the adversity, their grandparents had lived, happy and full lives and this wonderful country emerged from both economic disaster and global war. There was also another side to the story – there was a happy ending.
Our lives now may be different and challenging, but it is not that our nation hasn’t been confronted by adversity previously. Our challenges define us far more than our victories. Just maybe, this is our time.
Stay safe everyone and see you tomorrow.